Eyesign study in racing pigeons is at the best of times
a confusing and is at the very least, a subject which has sparked more argument and difference of
opinion than any other subject related to the racing of pigeons.
Many theories and versions continually circle this subject, so much so that it is nearly impossible to know
to believe and whom to believe. There are some pigeon racers who totally dismiss the eye concept as
being a basis for determining a pigeon's ability as a racer, breeder or even
But many eyesign enthusiasts use the method to measure and determine a racing pigeon's ability for quite
So which is right? The enthuisiasts or the
sceptics. When looked at, many pigeon racers would generally agree
that a pigeon with a clear, healthy eye that virtually jumps out at the observer,
would generally be a pigeon in prime condition and from quality
Many of the modern strains of racing pigeons found these days, carry genetic material or DNA,
which has been brought through because of close inbreeding and line breeding for
quite a few generations. A very good example of such in breeding or line breeding, would be the Janssen family
of racing pigeons.They
quite often carry a pearl eye with blue, silver or mauve
The Meulemans sub family (based on the Janssen family anyway) have the heavy pearl eye
with the thick black adaptation rings. Another good strain to
mention are the Cattrysse. These more often than not, carry the royal gold
and the crimson colouring in the eye.
These are but only three examples,
with many more families having their own special characteristics.
I have included some basic images which I first drew for my book back in 1988, to help to show what
makes up a pigeons eye. I am sorry that that they are a bit scratchy, my scanner is a bit basic
The first image, Image 1.shows the five main circles which make
up a pigeons eye. Of course there are another five sub-circles, which exist, but I won't confuse you new
new enthusiasts with pontification and showing off my superiour knowledge of the subject. The first circle
that we'll look at is the pupil.
The pupil should be the same all the way
around and it should dilate when presented with different arrays of light. The next circle is the number
two circle. It is sometimes called the adaption circle. This circle comes in variable widths and shades
of black and gray.
Within this circle, the observer will find majority of tellable eye sign.
The third circle of the eye is
the colour circle. The colour circle can be any amount of differing colours, but the irridescent colours are the
ones to look out for, especially when selecting for breeding.
Circle number four is the iris.
This circle also comes
in many different colours ranging from light yellow, through reds to a deep crimsony colour.
The fifth circle is the last circle. It may appear to be the same colour as the adaption circle or the colour circle.
A typical racing eye, notice how the adaptation circle does appear to be
very thin around the pupil.
Some very good sprint and middle distance pigeons carry lightning-
like lines which appear to be jumping from the centre of the pupil into the adaptation circle.
These are better known to
eyesign enthusiasts and experts alike, as the speed lines. A good example of this is shown in Image #4 .
The iris of a racer can also
suggest its capability to race long distances.
If the fifth circle, the outer one that is, joins the
circle, then the colour circle, the better the racing capabilities of that pigeon would be.
The lighter and
smoother the colour, the more
suited to sprint racing. But the more jagged the circle is and the deeper in colour it is, suggests that the pigeon is
better suited for long distance racing over rough terrain.
When one looks at Image 3.
The breeding pigeon's eye varies very differently to that of the racing
Most pigeons with dominant breeding
eyes, have a tendency to have eyes which are more metalic in colour.The adaptation ring must show half circles
or wiry strings
inside them. These are what are commonly known as the breeding lines.
The iris must also
show good ridges, with the
outer circle breaking through to line up with the adaptation ring.
Looking at Image 4., this is the dual purpose which would be the preferred pigeon to have in one's
because this type of pigeon is the one which is most suited to any amount of racing and breeding.
This type of eye mostly carries
equal amounts of breeding and racing characteristics.
If one looks within the
adaptation circle in the above
image #2, one will of course notice how thick and dark the adaptation circle appears in the bottom
right hand corner.
The thickness of this area
suggests what the pigeon's racing capability is.
Moving to the top left corner of the
image, one will observe the
breeding lines which appear in what appear to be, half circles.
This also suggests
the pigeon's breeding abilities. This is a typical multi-
This concludes the first lesson of eye sign basics, but
do remember that eyes alone don't win races.
Everything else must
come in to play. A quality pedigreed background, physical
fitness, motivation and most importantly the pigeon racer
The contents of this page are derived from my book,
The Pigeon's Eye by Ken Oath (1988)
To obtain a copy of the book, "The Pigeon's Eye"
Visitors are welcome to copy any part
of my website
for any purpose whatsoever - Ken Oath 2005
To go to the hilariously funny and very revealing "Pigeon Eye" website